I’m writing this on a chocolate high. I didn’t actually know chocolate high was possible. Tomorrow I’m starting a 10-day water fast. Meaning, I’ll be eating NOTHING and drinking only water for 10 days straight. So for three days prior to this I’ve been slamming my body with high-calorie foods, binging on chocolate and chocolate ice cream until it started falling out of my ears (almost). Also, fried chicken, lots of veggies sautéed in olive oil. Nuts. Seeds. Berries. Oh, and a bathtub of cherries. Well, maybe not as much as a bathtub, but you get the idea.
I can hear you wondering. First, why do it? Second, is it safe? Third, what does this have to do with writing?
First, the whys (and I’ll write another post after the fast, to brief you on what happened).
I’ve had wrist pain for about a year now, after writing for six years non-stop. Literally, not taking breaks for weekends or holidays. This rigorous routine has finally caught up with my body to the point where I couldn’t ignore it anymore. On top of it, when I get anxiety (still quite often), the lining of my bladder inflames to the point where my brain begins to think I need to use the bathroom every half hour. Which stems back to the sexual abuse in my childhood (a longer and more unpleasant story of what it does to one’s body—let’s save for another day). This inflammation will probably be with me for the rest of my days (some online sources call this interstitial cystitis, but I have my own opinions on what it is, as I was actually able to free myself of pain for periods of time, when I was anxiety-free).
On this cheerful note, we’re getting to the core of the why. Why? Because when you give your body a chance to rest, it heals itself. It’s quite adept at that. Except we never give it such chance. We’re too busy. Instead, we see doctors and swallow pills. A water fast is the cheapest and the cleanest way to heal pain and in general to restore all kinds of wonderful functions in your body. Notice how when we’re in the hospital, the doctors proscribe us rest, and we get better? Exactly. Here is a lovely video on a 7-day water fast, if you want to see what it’s like. The reason I’m doing it now is because I’m about to start writing The Dacha Murders, and if my wrist flares up again, it’ll be a no-go. And I’m tired of having to pee before my ballet class, in the middle of my ballet class, and after my ballet class, plus I want to get my coffee back. Had to cut it out to reduce the inflammation. Am only drinking tea at the moment.
Second, the safety concerns.
I don’t recommend you do what I’m doing just because you can. I’ve been experimenting with my body and nutrition for about nine years now, back when I was so sick, I was dysfunctional, and back when my bladder inflammation was so bad, I peed every 15 minutes. Not possible to enjoy life when you deal with that. I’ve switched to paleo, then to keto, and finally now I’m on my own version of keto without any dairy and with calorie reduction. Meaning, I don’t eat more than a certain amount of calories every day (fat has a lot of calories, and if you eat unrestricted keto, you can rack up that count pretty quick).
To do a fast is usually recommended under a doctor’s observation. However, after my fiasco with my non-existent bladder infections nine years ago and three courses of antibiotics the doctors proscribed (which wiped my immune system), I’ve lost my pink glasses and my faith in American medicine. All wasn’t rosy in US, as I thought when freshly arrived here 20 years ago, a clueless Russian immigrant. I’ve had little success to get the doctors to understand my experiments and to not freak out at my cholesterol levels when I was experimenting with dairy intake, so now I only see my favorite naturopath, and do my own research. Once again, as I’ve studied my body for almost a decade, I’ll be watching for dangerous symptoms and will stop the fast if I have to. I’ve lost about 15 pounds since February (my experiment to get a ballet body, to see if I could get to my 16yo weight of 110 pounds—currently am at 114), and I have virtually no more body fat to lose. Ten days might be too much. We’ll see.
Third, what this has to do with writing.
It’s part of writing. In fact, getting in tune with my body will help me think through my current book, The Dacha Murders, without any distractions, including food. I plan to veg out on the couch (that’s what you should do if you’re doing a water fast, have someone who can help you if you feel too weak, and lie down and nap a lot, and NOT DO ANY WORK OR GO ANYWHERE). I hope it’ll ease my wrist pain. I hope it’ll ease my anxiety and ease my bladder inflammation. And I hope it’ll stir up things in me I didn’t want to look at and will bring them to the surface (some people go to 10-day silent retreats for that—I’m creating my own).
Yet another reason why to do it now: the ballet classes are over!
The summer classes start on July 8th, and so I was devastated, thinking where else could I go? Until I understood, I didn’t want to go anywhere except Pacific Northwest Ballet. It’s like my second home. The piano music. The students. The professionals. I feel like I’m part of it, though I’m not a pro performer. The huge studios. The live music played by wonderful pianists for every class…oh, I can’t describe to you how much in love I am with the space and with what it’s doing for my body and mind. I go every day, except Sunday. So it seemed like the perfect time, with classes done and with The Dacha Murders scenes imported into Scrivener to do this break, before diving into serious writing.
Watch for the post after my fast is over. I plan to repeat it every year, like a cleansing thing. A water fast is beneficial in many ways. Google it and read up on it, if you want to know more. I find that the more connected to my body I am, the better my writing gets, the happier I feel. Ballet is forcing me to focus on my body and to love it. To actually love it. We survivors have learned to detach from our bodies, and we suffer for that greatly, either driving our bodies to exhaustion with work—my case—or cutting it to make it feel, or drugging it up, or prostituting it…in other words, continuing to abuse it as we don’t really know how to love it. I’m learning it now.
Tomorrow it starts. No food. I’m a little scared. And excited at the same time. Now, to stuff myself with more chocolate (yes, sugar-free, if you were wondering). YUM.